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2 dead, 4 injured in helicopter crash near Prince George, B.C.

Two people were killed and four others were injured after a helicopter crashed in B.C.'s Cariboo region Tuesday morning.

Authorities said the incident involved a privately owned helicopter that was on a chartered flight when it went down shortly before 8 a.m. near the Purden Ski Hill, approximately 50 kilometres east of Prince George.

“Regrettably, two of the individuals did not survive,” Cpl. Jennifer Cooper of the Prince George RCMP said in a statement. “Our Victim Services Unit is currently working with the families of the deceased, providing ongoing support.”

Though the identities of those on board have not been released, they include contractors who were preparing to do field survey work for Canfor, a major lumber, pulp and paper producer based in Vancouver.

"We mourn the loss of the workers whose lives were heartbreakingly cut short and send condolences to their families and friends," said Michelle Ward, Canfor's vice-president of communications, in an email to CTV News. "Our thoughts are also with the passengers who are recovering from injuries today." 

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a team of investigators has been deployed to the collision, but that few details have been confirmed, including a potential cause.

“We can’t speculate as to what happened,” said Liam MacDonald, media relations coordinator with the TSB. “We’ll be collecting information, gathering data and looking to make a decision as to how to classify this occurrence.”

The classification, which can range from Class 1 to Class 6, will determine the agency’s response, ranging from a limited gathering of basic facts for statistical reporting to a full investigation that results in in-depth analysis and recommendations.

The federal agency says the chopper that went down was a Bell 206L helicopter. The aircraft has the capacity to hold seven people – one pilot and six passengers – according to an online description from the manufacturer.

MacDonald could not say whether the pilot in Tuesday's crash was among the deceased.

BC Emergency Health Services, in an email, said six ambulances were dispatched to the scene and that paramedics "cared for and transported four patients." No information was provided about their conditions.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the health authority confirmed that the patients were taken to the University Hospital of Northern BC.

"Those patients have been assessed at the hospital and all are reported to be in good condition. It’s expected that some of the patients may be discharged from the hospital today," an email to CTV News said.

The BC Coroner's Service, the RCMP, local firefighters and search and rescue crews were all at the scene of the crash Tuesday.

Federal investigators are expected to arrive Wednesday. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel Top Stories

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